I love reading. Unfortunately, I’m an embarrassingly slow reader and I don’t have as much dedicated downtime as I used to. As a result, my to be read pile is dauntingly high. When I do read, though, I come across some beautiful books, and the books I read with my children have really captured my heart the last couple of years.
I love reading with them as part of our bedtime routine, to wind down after a long outing, or simply as a good way to connect with those sweet little hearts. I cannot express my gratitude for the authors that have created such heartfelt stories that allow my kids and me to learn and grow together. Surprisingly, the things I learned while reading with my children also applied to my writing!
I have three beautiful kids, ages four, two and one. From the moment the sun wakes them up and their sweet voices pull me out of bed, to the last little moments where they peek out of their rooms before falling asleep, I am their everything. My time is all wrapped up in them and their needs most of the day. Except for writing. I knew that I would be the best mom for them if I had at least one thing for me. So, 4 years ago, during my down time I started writing because it was something cheap and gratifying I could do for myself. Since then my love for it has grown. Part of what I love most about it is that there's so much to learn!
I might not have been in a stage of my life that was ideal for formal education, but I used the tools I did have to learn tools that would help my writing get better. During dishes, laundry, showers, and driving; any time I could reasonably listen to or watch something on writing, I soaked it in.
Many of you find yourselves in similar situations. Maybe you have a demanding day job, you’re a full-time student, or you're stay at home parents. You have precious little time to yourself, and no luxury of taking formal classes. Lucky for us we live in the mighty age of the internet where YouTubers, bloggers, and podcasters alike reign supreme. For those who have the desire, there is no end to the things that can be learned.
So, here are just a few of my favorite online resources for writing that have made those spare moments worthwhile.
1. Jenna Moreci
Your potty mouth, tell it to you straight, writing coach, Jenna Moreci is the science fiction and fantasy author of Eve The Awakening, and The Savior’s Champion. She’s an independently published author with a background in business which has given her writing career a successful edge that she shares with her audience. Her videos go into depth about her publishing process and other writing tips, and the Cyborg Queen pulls no punches.
I've found these three videos to be especially helpful:
CreateSpace vs IngramSpark: Which One is Better for Selfpublishing
How To Write With A Full Time Job
Tips For a Successful Book Cover
Writing presents a unique dilemma compared to other jobs. There are few markings of success by which to judge ourselves on along the road to publishing.
I worked at Starbucks before I had my first little one. Every day I knew exactly what needed to be done, and when. In the morning iced teas and coffees required prepping, grinders needed filling, and pastries were stocked with a set number of goodies, each placed in an enticing display. In other words, there was a clearly defined checklist, and when the list was accomplished, it felt good! Then there were the drinks. To this day I still can put my body through the motions of making a Frappuccino. Fill the Blender with ice, three pumps of white mocha, three pumps of “Frappuccino Sauce” and milk. Then I blend, pour, and finish with a beautiful crown of whip cream. I knew when I did it right because it looked beautiful, and the customer was happy (well…most of the time).
Unfortunately, writing isn’t like that, is it? Sometimes I trick myself into thinking that it is. I will happily create a checklist of chapters, scenes, and themes and feel that same sense of satisfaction as I check them off after a productive writing session is over. I try to quantify my work by setting out to write a certain number of hours or words in one sitting.
I attended my last two writing conferences with a baby strapped to my chest. It terrified me and added a decent amount of anxiety. I pictured him crying inconsolably while other attendees glared at me for selfishly ruining their learning opportunity. It took a lot of deep breaths, and a good pep talk to convince myself that just because I was a mother did not mean I also had to be stuck at home. I had talents, I deserved to learn, and I was also a capable mother who could take care of her child in a public setting. So, off I went.
The bravery to go didn’t come on its own, though. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful support group. The girls at Writing Through Brambles are passionate about motherhood and their writing, and believe the two go hand in hand. This belief has led us to create an anthology centered on mothers called Beyond Instinct.
There is not a single person who does something without wanting something in return. No person gives information freely, no lover gives a kiss without expectations.
This idea explains hope- fostering a desire and being brave enough to wish that what you're giving will someday earn you that desire- just as much as it explains selfishness.
What your character says reflects the thing they want most, and how they say it has a direct correlation with whether they get it. Because of this, you can't have powerful dialogue without a deep understanding of your character's driving motivations.
It is no secret that self publishing is the go to route for Authors who have a creative vision not worth compromising and an unwavering determination. It requires the most hands on involvement as you are in charge of finding and paying for everything from your copy editor to your cover artist. You make the words on the page look as good as they read, and you make sure it gets into the hands of the right audience. The Greek Titan Atlas has nothing on the weight a Self Publisher carries on their shoulders.
In 2016 self published titles and Amazon published titles were responsible for bringing in %25 of the gross income for the book industry. That same year 786,935 books were published by authors who knew that their visions could be best accomplished themselves, and %27 of the titles on Amazon's Best Sellers List belong to those authors.
Our very own Bree Moore joined their ranks in 2017 when she published her novel Woven. Inspired by Arthurian legend and Lord Alfred Tennyson's ballad, "The Lady of Shalott", Woven is an intricately told story of two women who find themselves faced with two very different curses. Elaina fights a curse that traps her forever weaving a beautiful tapestry high in a tower. Guinevere must keep from succumbing to her splintered personalities in order to circumvent the plan to kill her love, King Arthur.
Now, Woven is out for your listening pleasure on Audible, and I had the chance to chat with Bree Moore about her book, her life, and the publishing process itself.
Writing attracts quiet, soft introverted people. We like to write in the dark. We like to sit by ourselves. We like to cuddle with our fur babies and muse over the worlds that we create without interruption from real life. Often, the reason we write is because its easier than talking to others and living in their busy world.
When we start growing our hobby into something more professional, we are confronted by the very extroverted truth: if you want to write professionally you must come out of your comfortable, quite places, leave your fur babies behind and… talk to people.
Writing conferences, critique groups, querying agents and (if you’re lucky enough) book signings, interviews and all the things that come with publishing are all very social oriented. The high energy demands can be taxing on us introverts. We can easily be caught in a tight cycle of anxiety- I want to be a writer because it suits all these introverted qualities I have, but because I want to be a writer I must work around those same qualities.
At least once every conference I look around myself, and think “why are we here when we would so much rather be snuggled up with our cats?”
And the answer is- it’s worth it. So worth it. And, it can be fun!
Going to a writing conference will help you meet the very people who will launch your manuscript to success. You will learn tips and strategies that will propel you from your writer’s block. Conferences give you quality one on one time with agents and publishers. Some conferences have banquets and dances and workshops where you can let your creative kite fly. There is no end to the possibilities. Still, while going to a conference is among the very best thing you can do for your writing, there are still challenges.
Conference season is upon us and if you’re especially nervous, or you dreading that feeling of exhaustion, I want to help you find ways to increase the fun. Here are a couple tips to make your experience the most enjoyable and beneficial it can be:
We're all writers, we're all moms, writing our way through the "brambles" of life and our stories.